Midsommar

When Midsommar was announced, it became one of my top anticipated films of 2019.

Sure sure, a big part of that has to do with the theme. A horror movie, set mostly in daylight, and in Sweden? That is unique in itself, even if the plot ends up being weak. Location can mean everything.

The other big reason is that the director, Ari Aster, was ready to follow up his smashing success of Hereditary. Not only was it on my top of the year list, but it was the best horror of last year and had some best acting performances in my book. Clearly I would run towards any second movie he had to offer after that glorious first picture.

And also, Swedish people!

vacation
None of these people are Swedish. Well, one is. But can you tell he is Swedish?

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Raynor) are having some problems with their relationship. They have been dating for awhile now, but they might be drifting. Dani’s family has been having a lot of personal drama, so Christian feels like it is never a good time for a breakup. And then, a bigger tragedy occurs, and sure, guess they need to keep this romance going.

Unrelated to their romance, Christian was invited to go to Sweden for a few weeks. Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a Swedish friend at their University, has invited his new friends to come see a festival in the commune where he grew up. They have yearly festivals around the middle of the summer, but this is the most special one that occurs only every 90 years. Also coming along are Josh (William Jackson Harper), who is working on a thesis about various cultures summer celebrations, Mark (Will Poulter), who is looking to score with some hot Swedish babes, and of course Dani, because she just needs something to distract her.

Now of course, this middle of nowhere, super northern, Swedish village far away from the main roads is going to be a bit weirder. And, given the time of year and location, they barely even have darkness. What a fun time to celebrate and frolic with the flowers. With this culture, their customs may seem strange to visitors. But they have done them for hundreds of years, so who is to say they are wrong?

Also starring a lot of Swedish people, including Liv Mjönes and Anna Åström.

scream
Ah yes, frolicking with the flowers.

Midsommar is definitely a movie, and one that took me awhile to be able to write about. Not weeks, just a few days. I wrote parts of the review right away, but I knew I needed to sit on my analysis.

First important note to point out is the film’s length. Very few horror films ever break 2 hours, and the ones that do end up being extremely successful or reach cult status. Midsommar is 2 hours and 20 minutes, almost unheard of for a horror (but not unheard of in terms of average movie length that seems to keep creeping upwards). Despite the length, I never once felt bored throughout the film, and mostly sat in awe of the beautiful cinematography, long shots, and colors.

In comparison to Hereditary, this is not as scary as his first film. It is definitely still unnerving/creepy, but for pure horror it lacks. It builds up its shocks and goes to an expected place by the end, but it is still satisfying and makes sense to get to that point.

Above all else, this is a film about a couple going through hard times and eventually going to have a break up. We know it, they know it, their friends know it. It just so happens that this break up is done in a unique and gory way.

Aster’s second major film is another win for him in terms of creativity, gorgeousness, and great acting performances. I cannot confirm yet if this is the case for sure, but you get to see a lot of Jack Raynor’s penis for those who have a check off list. It is probably actually him and not some CGI dick.

4 out of 4.

Annabelle Comes Home

Fuck. I didn’t see Annabelle: Creation. That was the sequel to Annabelle. I didn’t like Annabelle. I haven’t liked any offshoot of The Conjuring, but I have liked the first and second of those a whole lot.

Anyways, I heard Annabelle: Creation was better than Annabelle? No idea. But I still went to see Annabelle Comes Home in theaters anyways, because film critics don’t always do homework.

The good news is I can say that you definitely don’t have to see either of those Annabelle movies to understand this one. I’d say, seeing The Conjuring movies helps fully grasp this one better.

reflectI also haven’t seen the La Llorona, and it probably affects this movie zero. Probably.

First of all, for context, this movie takes place…at the start and/or during and/or right after The Conjuring. We get to see the Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) collect the doll, place it in their home, bless it and all that. And then?

Rush off to a job! So close to Judy’s (Mckenna Grace) birthday, their daughter. And they cant take her on these scary things. So instead they leave her in a house with scary things. But it is okay for a few reasons. The room of artifacts is blessed weekly, has tons of protections, and many locks. And hey, they’ve had stuff for awhile and nothing bad has happened.

Plus they have a really swell babysitter in Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), who is kind, takes care of Judy, and knows where to stay out of. She is not new at this.

What IS new about this situation is that Mary’s friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife) decided to stop by intrigued by the creepiness of the house. Sure enough, Daniela goes where she shouldn’t, lets some things open that she shouldn’t, and now the night is about to be full of terror.

Also starring Michael Cimino as hunky neighbor kid.

da fuq
What’s this? A fear unrelated to the title of the movie?

In Captain America: Civil War, it featured over 10 superheroes and villains, introduced new characters, featured a lot of fan service and was still pretty good. It also felt like Avengers 2.5 in a way, but it also still maintained that it was a Captain America movie the whole time, despite the extended cast.

Yes this is relevant to the review.

Annabelle Comes Home seems to want to be the Captain America: Civil War of the Warren Investigative universe. It is clearly a Conjuring-esque film, besides also featuring the Warrens, but in terms of the various threats. In each Conjuring film there is one main threat, but also a couple of minor ones. However, unlike Civil War, this did not do enough to feel like an Annabelle film.

In the other two Annabelle films, she is the lead, the star, the threat. In this film, her “power” makes all these other artifacts come to life and haunt accordingly, so much that each individual artifact seems to harass their own kid. And then a couple more for fun. Annabelle herself doesn’t seem scary, she is just a doll sitting there “mentally” doing things. The Conjuring films have these extra mini-horrors now in order to find what the fans like for their spinoff movies. This felt like they were throwing a dozen things at the screen just to hope for more spinoffs.

Annabelle Comes Home had a good sense of dread around it. But at the same time, I knew how the fate of all the characters would be by the end. It feels like a waste. This big evil powerful spirit doesn’t seem to really have an endgame here. Eventually they are just able to win, and scary stuff just remains scary, and I don’t know at what point was she ever planning on “winning” and getting the things she needed.

It has good scares. The plot is wack and the villain is wack. Just give me The Conjuring 3 already, please.

2 out of 4.

Us

I just think we need to be apart for a bit. I think there is a disconnect, a dethering, if you will. But overall, I want to make it clear, it’s not you, it’s…Us.

That was me talking to all the other movies I could have watched recently, but knew that nothing was going to stop be from seeing Us. The second movie directed/written/produced by Jordan Peele, who gave us the wildly great and successful Get Out two years prior.

This sequel is incredibly different with its theme, and probably “subtle messages”, and that is wonderful. It can be hard for directors to try new things, and Peele is ready to branch out right away. For example, Us looks a lot more like a horror film than Get Out did, so I expect to be much more of a bitch while watching it, and hiding from the screen in front of me.

us
This is me ready to face the scares of the movie (If the movie was the staircase).

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family are relatively successful in life, and able to enjoy some of the finer things. Her husband (Winston Duke) is very outgoing and funny, her daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is in track, and her youngest boy (Evan Alex), sort of a weird one, likes magic and masks and playing jokes. They are at least wealthy enough to go on vacations to a summer home that they also own on a lake. Okay yeah, that is pretty wealthy. Two homes? Like, one they don’t even rent out because they have a lot of personal belongings there that they can just leave all year. Really nice.

Well, Adelaide doesn’t like that area. The lake is fine. But in a nearby city, she had an incident in her childhood that changed her life forever. It scared her. Made her sheltered. All because she just wandered off.

And why did they have a vacation home near a place she fears? Eh, friend pressure probably.

Regardless. That night, some goddamn people in red bodysuit outfits show up outside of their residence. And they are mean, they look crazy, they have weapons and large sharp scissors. And they look just like them.

Also starring Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Madison Curry.

baddies
Twinsies!

So much going on in Us, so little place to discuss. First of all, this is the sort of film that will invoke better discussion once it is seen and can be freely talked about without a care for spoilers. So any of that cannot take place in this review. Trying to throw out what everything means or represents, which I have already seen and heard a lot of theories. Some bat shit, some not. That is great for any movie.

Instead, lets focus on other things. Namely, the score. Holy shit, there was some good music in this movie. Haunting, pulls you in, and really fills you with that sense of dread. Getting stabbed with scissors can be scary, but they made those scissors extra scary. The camera work was top notch, we were able to see a lot despite most most of the “action” taking place at night. They didn’t hide what was going on. Well, they did hide a lot of the gore that they could have showed. We got blood splatter, and off camera kills that are left to the audience to fill in some of the gorier blanks.

I loved loved loved Nyong’o in this. She had a lot of power and works really well in the horror genre. Duke, who has been in like, three movies now and a small role in Modern Family, has a big screen presence and does a lot to both lighten the mood and protect his family the best he can. I also think the two kid actors did great. Shoutout to Moss for being in her second doppleganger film as well.

Overall, I do think the story gets a little bit muddled at times. I think the direction goes more places than one would expect, and so it can’t focus on a few aspects to make itself truly great. This is scarier than Get Out, but not as deep. It is still a solid film. Some people hate the ending, and I admit, I didn’t love it for various reasons, but I think it didn’t detract from the movie as a whole.

3 out of 4.

Velvet Buzzsaw

Before Velvet Buzzsaw, Dan Gilroy has directed only two movies, and he is the writer of both of those films. The first one was Nightcrawler, a genius film and clearly one of the best of the year. It is haunting, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances of his life.

The second one was Roman J. Israel, Esq., which people like to ignore. I mean, Denzel Washington was nominated for acting from it, but it didn’t have Gyleenhaal so no one cared. It was not was well received as his first film.

This brings us back to Velvet Buzzsaw, which Gilroy again wrote and directed on his own. And because it is more horror based and has Gyllenhaal in it, people were notably excited and declared it would be just as good as Nightcrawler! Being released on Netflix isn’t an issue, because Netflix movies can be good!

People like to hype, I guess I am saying.

Art
Nothing scarier than hearing I would have to analyze and judge pieces of art.

It is really hard to pick a main character to really talk about in this movie, but they want us to focus on Gyllenhaal with advertising, so I will. Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal), probably a fake name, is an art critic in LA, one of the most famous and prestigious. He does fine work, people like him, he knows how to describe things like any elitist art man.

One of the galleries he tends to review at has a young fledgling art dealer, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who is having a stressful time in life. To top it all off, some man dies in her apartment, she finds the body, it makes her late for work and she is demoted. After finding out that all of his items are to be destroyed per his wishes, she checks on his cat and finds hundreds to thousands of pieces of art, all originals, all haunting and powerful.

This? This could be her chance. You know, to deceive some people, act like it is her client, sell his art, get big in the community. Everyone is instantly amazed by the art, including her boss (Rene Russo), they want in on the action, want a piece of that huge jackpot of money they are about to create.

But as soon as more research goes into the now deceased artist, they find he had a troubled past, and has a good reason to have wanted all of the artwork to be destroyed.

Also starring Billy Magnussen, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, and Tom Sturridge.

STare
Everyone uses the same Gyllenhaal staring picture in their reviews,
I WANT A DIFFERENT ONE OKAY?

Velvet Buzzsaw, both the title, and the premise, is one that is able to draw you in slowly. It is set in a world that most of us are not a part of, dealing, making, selling art and making it a focal point of their lives. The rich, the elite. And that makes it a good film to have people die in.

Too many horror films are killing off our teenagers at record numbers. What about these rich people? The snobby elites? Why not watch them die in creative art fueled ways?

The concept is fine, but it definitely lacks the creep factor. It doesn’t seem to fully embrace the thoughts of horrors, and instead we get a strange drama/horror hybrid, where enough people definitely die, but never in ways that really seem exciting to talk about. The final death was a bit wicked, but other than that, it is mostly generic crazy death things.

It would be more memorable if it just went harder in the genre, but this movie plays it safe. We don’t have enough horrors set in museums, which are clearly some of the creepiest places to be. This adds to the list, but doesn’t top that list.

2 out of 4.

Anna and the Apocalypse

Every year I have a most anticipated movie of that year, and I try to make it pretty obvious when I first hear about it. For example, last year my most anticipated film was The Greatest Showman, and I was excited for around 18 months until I finally got to see it.

For 2018, my most anticipated movie was Anna and the Apocalypse. I first heard about it in 2017, as a movie screened at Fantastic Fest. So it was an already complete product, it just needed a distributor, and it needed to find a time to release.

Apparently that time was a whole year later. I don’t usually have a theme of my most anticipated movies coming out in December, it just happened to be true these last two years. They aren’t always musicals either, but again, it can happen.

But this film just had everything for me to get hyped on. Accents, comedy, music, and zombies. What else is missing?

Ignore
This is me ignoring the people who hate this movie on the premise alone.

Another day, another pile of classes, and another set of dicks to deal with. That is what most high school students think. Anna (Ella Hunt) wants to get out of her small town in Scotland, and see the world. More notably, Australia, that would be cool. She lives alone with her dad (Mark Benton) who is also the head custodian at the school, which isn’t as awkward as it sounds. It is totally cool in Scotland. He knows she has ambitions, but he doesn’t know she is already buying the tickets to leave.

Life is relatively normal for her though otherwise. She has an ex (Ben Wiggins) who disgusts her and is now a school bully, she has a best friend (Malcolm Cumming) who likes her, but not too mutual. She has some friends who are madly in love (Marli Siu, Christopher Leveaux ) despite weirdly paired, and an American friend (Sarah Swire) and she is from America! Hell, we even have an assistant principal (I don’t remember what they call that spot in Scotland) character (Paul Kaye) who wants to ruin kids lives and rule the school! A smorgasbord of fun.

And even though they are alone in Scotland, it is not far enough for the Zombie plague to reach them. That’s right, zombies!

Getting away is a good idea, but when friends and family are separated, the first goal is to find them, then figure out a way off. And yes, these zombies are pretty typical. And as far as I remember, none of them end up singing. You need to have a warm body to sing.

Head
Working lungs are good too. And a head. Yeah, definitely a head.

Alright, going into a movie that is my most anticipated of the year AND a musical? Well, that means I will have some biases. Thankfully these biases I am aware of and only have a small effect on the film. Because darn it, this film is not a 4 out of 4, no matter how much I want it to be. It has issues, it has plot problems, it could be better. But it is still really dosh garn entertaining.

Now, most of the songs in retrospect sound very similar. Just in their poppy, very fine tuned comb way. That bugged me when watching it. There are some clear standouts from the movie. Hollywood Ending is fantastic, it is their favorite too given their push to get people to hear it and made the lyric video. I enjoy Break Away, Turning My Life Around, and Human Voice. Other songs like the Chrstmas/Fish Rap aren’t as good with repeated listens, and I never really enjoyed the songs with Kaye singing. That included the ending songs. They just didn’t mesh well. The song with Wiggins is downright terrible, and another one they are trying to push, but it left a sour taste and never felt like it would end.

And I listened to the soundtrack a lot, it can easily get in your head, and I want to see the movie again thanks to the music and the way the songs occurred.

It is really easy to get attached as well. I did cry twice in the movie, because you know what? People are going to die. Despite the claims of not a Hollywood Ending, we still get a drive off into the horizon, with not the cast of characters I would have predicted. Zombies are used only when needed as plot devices to further a script, and that does include killing characters. And unfortunately, the ending is a big mess. I mean the entire time they are at the (final place, is this a spoiler?) school, just didn’t go well.

It is still enjoyable, a tow tapper, and a film I will add to my collection of stranger zombie comedies to watch when the mood hits me.

3 out of 4.

Halloween

Forty years ago, a slasher movie came out, by John Carpenter, and people really liked it. I don’t know if Halloween changed the game from movies in that time, but it was well liked, it had some long cut scenes, surprises, boobs, and a lot of scary scary moments. It spanned a lot of sequels.

Three weeks ago, I finally watched that movie, and hey, I liked it enough. It was fun and I was excited for the sequel. I definitely did not watch any of the follow ups, because hey, new Halloween said they don’t matter. This is a direct sequel, fuck the other movies.

Sounds good to me.

Mask
This killer is now super old, and his mask really shows those stress lines.

Forty years ago, some bad stuff happened in Haddonfield, Illinois. You may have seen the documentary about it. And since that moment, since Michael Myers was apprehended, he has been studied in psych wards for decades. He barely moves. He doesn’t speak. No one can figure out his deal. We even have a new scientist (Haluk Bilginer), protege of the old scientist, who has made Myers his life’s work to unravel. And the state is finally done with Myers, so they are going to transfer him to real prison for him to just be jailed and ignored, no more chance for study.

Back in Haddonfield, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is living life on her own, in a compound in the wood. She’s got gates, security cameras, hidden rooms, and a lot of gun training. She is ready for the big day she knows is coming at some point. It has ruined her life in more ways than one. Her daughter was taken away from her when she was 12 years old due to her training, and her daughter (Judy Greer) hasn’t really let her back in her life much sense. That daughter is now married (Toby Huss), raising her own daughter (Andi Matichak) and trying to become normal and not driven by paranoia.

Needless to say, due to events, Michael is breaking out again, and he is ready to finish what he started. His obsession. His reason for breathing heavily.

And the plot involves some damn investigative journalists (Jefferson Hall, Rhian Rees) trying to stir up some memories. It is not the fault of the local Sheriff (Will Patton) this time. Also starring a few other teenage sidekicks to up the body count of people we potentially may care about, like Miles Robbins, Dylan Arnold, Virginia Gardner, and Drew Scheid with the worst Hobbit face known to man.

Door
And fuck this door in particular.

Halloween starts out strong and keeps up the pace for most of the film. We get to have a similar score from the original film, similar opening credits, and a whole lot of intense moments that have nothing to do with people dying from kitchen knives.

It does have jump scares early on, of relatively silly things, that modern movies love to do with teenagers. They can be annoying. This Hall actor being a journalist feels like he really just wants to be Kenneth Branagh. I really hate the fat jokester friend by a lot. He has a hobbit face, and it confuses me, and I just don’t want him in this movie.

Michael kills a lot more in this film, and seems far more superhuman than he did in the first film. Ridiculous deaths, jaws ripped off and more. Would make sense from a more supernatural point of view, but I thought this was meant to be more realistic slasher film.

I still did enjoy most of the film. But the last act felt very rushed (minus one search the house scene). Things were cut quickly, scenes moved quickly, and it became harder to follow while also being less exciting overall.

Honestly, the ending pushed it into just average territory. It was a fine follow up and probably lead to adequate follow ups in the future. Hopefully Kenny Fucking Powers will be in those follow ups.

2 out of 4.

A Quiet Place

This review for A Quiet Place has come way later than most of you would expect. But hey, I missed the first screening. And for a movie of this level, I would normally rush off to see it regardless. But I also love my wife.

And this is a movie she wanted to see badly as well. Her wanting to see movies isn’t rare, but she almost never wants to see horror. Her love of the actors involve and the interviews she saw online changed her opinion enough to still want to see it, so I knew my first time seeing it would be with her in our house, once it is on Red Box.

Which was like, a month ago. Vacations yo, they can delay things. And thus even surprising me for when this one finally came out.

Finger1
This is how my students have to walk down the hallway sometimes if they don’t listen to the rules.

We first see our family with the world already ravaged. People are gone and dead. Things have been abandoned. Desolation, ruin, all of the normal signs of an Apocalypse.

Our father (John Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt), and three kids (Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward) are looking for supplies and no one is speaking. Every time a sound is about to be made, it is stopped and fixed before problems occur.

Based on newspaper articles and television recordings it is clear that some sort of Alien has occupied the planet. They have amazing hearing but poor site. For those who choose to run, play, gossip, they will be quickly found and eaten. A pretty shitty time to be alive.

But this family is doing okay. They have sound proofed most of their belongings. They knew sign language because their oldest, the daughter, is deaf. And the father is spending a lot of time trying to get her an earpiece to let her hear the world.

Needless to say, conflict will be coming to their house. An event, an incredibly loud one normally, is to occur, and they have to find a way to survive the attack that will certainly appear at their door step.

Hush
WE SAID NO TALKING GOD DAMN IT!

What a tense and wonderful film. Directed, starting, and written a little bit by Krasinski, he shows off a powerful movie on his first full feature attempt. Well, first well known movie. Not many people saw The Hollars, despite some nominations [I totally wanted to, I just forgot]. It is at least his first horror picture directing.

A lot of experiences with this film will talk about how amazing it was to quiet an entire theater from any sound, as a joint experience brought on from the films suspense. That didn’t happen in my house, because it is a house with kids, but I still was on the edge of my seat.

A Quiet Place did a great job of explaining the alien back story without feeling stupid. And better yet, we get to stay in the dark like most of the cast about the aliens. We don’t get all of it explained and we don’t need it. The idea of future sequels worries me as they will likely ruin the suspense.

Overall this is a very tense and upsetting movie. As a father, I obviously identified with several of the elements and they struck a bigger nerve but I can see those complaining about not scary enough. Some of the character decisions are incredibly frustrating, and it is another thing to watch kids be dumb. But kids are dumb.

I hope more horror films start going this route. This is an indie horror movie feel that made it mainstream. The more people accept this film then the more they will begin to accept films like It Comes At Night.

3 out of 4.

Unfriended: Dark Web

Here’s a very important fact for this review. I liked Unfriended! Hell, the movie actually scared me. Gotta watch out for that haunted social media stuff.

I loved the concept of the film as well. All from a screens point of view. This has now happened in various other ways. We had the Modern Family episode like that and later this year John Cho is looking through his missing daughter’s computer in blahhhh. As long as it doesn’t become overused I won’t mind it (note, it totally will become overused).

And when I compare this first film to say, Friend Request, one was entertaining, scary, and fun, the other was just a pile of shit. Similar plots. Very different execution.

Knowing all of that, I assume this one will be shit just from the subtitle. Unfriended: Dark Web? It is going to use a real internet thing and turn it into demon ghost stuff or whatever. Maybe the Dark Web itself will matter. But if it doesn’t, the title is shit and the movie would probably be shit.

...Picture in Picture In Picture in Picture in Picture...
Picture in Picture In Picture in Picture in Picture…

Matias (Colin Woodell) has a new computer! It is a nice mac. He didn’t buy it. He didn’t buy it on craigslist. He found it in a lost and found, no one claimed it for a few weeks, so it is time for him to take it, right?

After figuring out the password, it seems to belong to a Norah C. IV, some rich person, because hey, they are the 4th right? Matias is trying to figure it out right before a game night with his friends (Connor Del Rio, Betty Gabriel, Andrew Lees, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Savira Windyani). Well, one of them is in London, and also they all feel lazy so they will just do it over Skype. That is because their game night is lame anyways, and just Cards Against Humanity. They aren’t even drinking, just playing a lame game over Skype!

Also during this time, Matias is trying to reconnect with his girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), who happens to be deaf.

And of course, Matias notices that the computer is extremely full but he can’t find anything. Long story short? Video files, and assassination for higher on the dark web. Bitcoins, human trafficking, the whole nine yards. And now that the computer is on, the hacker wants his machine back. Or else.

Also starring Chelsea Aiden and Douglas Tait.

UDW
This film is about the sexiest of people.

Well, good news is that the movie involved the dark web! It involved several aspects of it, so the title isn’t just crap. The first movie was about a demonic online spirit. This one was about hackers and bad people in general on the internet. It did not connect to the previous film, even though I figured it might just be the same concept. But nope, they changed things up, that’s good.

However, just like the first film, there are technical issues they are just blatantly ignoring. If they are going to make it one screen and click things, they need to commit to their goddamn concept. Right away our main character puts on Spotify, which seems to lower its volume whenever its relevant to the plot without user input. Amazing! And a bigger deal later on, when our main character begins to freak out and do internet things while on Skype, some times he mutes the conversation, some times he doesn’t. And the times he doesn’t, for whatever reason, all 4+ other people are suddenly quiet until he comes back? It does it correctly a few times, but not all the times, and that just becomes lazy editing and helps kill the experience.

As for the actual plot, they still seem to have some sort of supernatural element. The JPEGing thing, when a hacker is on the screen? That is dumb. That isn’t fun to see. That is not how hacking works. Similarly, how the main hacker communicated they wanted to look as spooky and ghost like as possible.

And yet, if they designed this whole film without any of the supernatural or confusing elements, it could have been a fantastic story. It had great elements. How some of them were taking out, using you know, hacking and actual real story kind of things? That worked really well. But by the end, with all of the reveals and screen shenanigans, it made parts feel cheap, and it didn’t feel like a single screen anymore.

The rating is really for effort here, because it could have been better, it was still captivating when it got going, it also just was a bit shit.

2 out of 4.

The First Purge

Asking most people, they would tell you that they like The Purge: Anarchy, the most, which was the second film. It was good to see it on a city wide basis, but I am also one of the people who really enjoyed the original Purge movie as well. The Purge: Election Year, however, did nothing really for me. It was obvious what they were doing and going for, but the bad acting in it means it wasn’t as impactful as anyone would have liked.

Unlike previous films, I never saw a trailer for The First Purge, so I am going in relatively blind. I did see the first teaser poster though, which was enough to make me laugh and get a bit excited.

Although let’s be clear. This is a prequel. Prequels are generally fucking stupid, unless they can absolutely answer new information in a different light. And if it doesn’t? Well, then prequels are fucking stupid.

Mask
When did he have the time to make this mask? Did they all agree that masks were cool before it ever happened? Was there a crafting party/meeting?

This time, this takes place right after the New Founding Fathers have taken over the government and elected a president. They said they would help come up with a solution to fix America at any cost, as fast as possible.

And this involves a planned social experiment, for 12 hours, to let most average crimes, including murder, be legal. It will be done as an outlet to let out all the anger and aggression. And it will be done on Staten Island, a place with known borders, to see if it works.

Staten Island has a large poor population, so when the vote happened for their place, they agreed overwhelmingly. People who want to participate are also going to be given $5,000 if they survive the night. The rich can just leave the island before hand, the poor will stay and find this life changing, so of course they will do it.

No one really knows what to expect for the night. A lot of killing? Killing early and then people being satisfied and going home? Just a night of looting and outdoor sex? Who knows!

Well, we will have drones, contact lens cameras, and more reporting on the events around the world.

Starring Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Rotimi Paul, Mo McRae, and Marisa Tomei.

Protest
Protesting free money and free crime is an uphill battle.

Remember how we already learned that the purge was really a way to help deal with the undesirables? You know, the poor, the colored, the homeless? A way to lower the resources we needed overall? It was implied in the first film and explicitly shown in the second film?

Yeahh, well, they use that as a sort of plot twist shocking moment in this film. Sure, that would be shocking maybe if The First Purge was the first Purge movie, but it isn’t. It is a prequel, and it is showing us shit we already know.

This film was basically almost a 0 out of 4, due to having no point. But it is hard to not root for Noel’s character, despite being a drug lord kingpin, especially when he becomes John McClane near the end, scaling a tower in his wife beater t-shirt and bag of guns. This film also features a lot more people of color as our leads, which is fantastic. The bad aspects are that it just doesn’t offer really anything new. It is full of surprises that aren’t surprising, a bad local villain, and the cringeist scenes between the scientist and the politician. Which scene? Every. Single. Scene. Between them. Tomei just didn’t even give a fuck in this movie for her limited role.

The First Purge is forgettable and now leaves us in a weird position for this movie. Where does it go from here? Do we now do The Second Purge? Or can we just set up future random purge movies in random locations?

Or does anyone care anymore?

1 out of 4.

Hereditary

Another year, another A24 movie hailed as a masterpiece of horror. And yet, there is doubt.

Sometimes A24 overhypes their films. Understandable. And sometimes they advertise things a bit different and piss off a lot of people. Some people have not forgiven them over this. Other people think these highly acclaimed horror films are shit.

But here is something I think most people can agree with. 2017 was a strong year for Horror films. Probably the best in quite some time for the genre. And for Hereditary? Well, it is sure as hell my favorite horror film in at least the last decade.

Doll
As sure as hell that hell is often talked about in horror movies.

The Graham family has had some troubling times. And it all seems to funnel around Annie Graham (Toni Collette). Her mother just died. But like, they weren’t close at all. She was living her last days in their home, but that doesn’t really change their past relationship.

Annie is an artist, in that she designs small dollhouse like arrangements and has a show coming up this summer. She is extremely crafty and can make a lot of things. Her husband (Gabriel Byrne) is trying to keep her life as stress free as possible, but it is hard when there is so much angst in the household.

Angst? Heck yes angst. They have two kids. The oldest, the boy (Alex Wolff) doesn’t get along with the mom and vice versa. They have had an interesting past. The younger, the girl (Milly Shapiro), has an unfortunate look and aura to her. She was the only one close to the deceased. And she has a lot of issues on her own, dark drawings, antisocial, you name it.

But it turns out their family has a lot of secrets. Some that Annie is aware of, and some that are going to come crashing down on them whether she wants them to or not.

Also starring Ann Dowd and Mallory Bechtel.

Girl
“Unfortunate looking” is the nice way to talk about it.

Let’s just compare real quick. Get Out. It Comes At Night. It Follows. Stoker. The Babadook. The Witch.

All fine horror films, or thriller films depending on how you want to argue them. And yes, I think Hereditary beats the list, including The Witch, which is my favorite from that list.

It is so hard to describe the feelings that Hereditary brings up. Given the family nature of the film, my mind went several places I thought it might go, and it didn’t really touch them. It went down a relatively unique path that seemed natural, and plenty shocking. It is definitely a slow movie, until it decides to fully embrace the “regular” parts of the genre.

Because by all means, the end is full on horror movie. We don’t have jump scares to get us to that point. We have unsettling events. Some shocking moments of course, but nothing is cheap, it is all earned.

And acting wise, I will talk about Wolff first. This is probably the best he has ever done in a movie. He was seemingly typecasted in my eyes and this movie will hopefully get him out of those teenage romance dramas. But Collette? Holy fuck, Toni Collette. I have definitely never come close to watching all of her movies, but I can’t imagine her ever better. And she has been in a lot of bad things lately.

Bold statement – Collette deserves acting nominations by the end of the year. She helped carry this movie and elevate it to an amazing status. I cannot see this film not being in the top five by the end of the year.

4 out of 4.

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